If Republicans will study the returns from Massachusetts, then review the returns from Virginia and New Jersey, light will fall upon the path to victory over Barack Obama in 2012.
Obama defeated John McCain by winning the black vote 24 to one, the Hispanic vote two to one and taking a larger share of the white vote, 44 percent, than did John Kerry or Al Gore. As the white vote was three-fourths of the national turnout, Obama coasted to victory.
Now consider Massachusetts. In the 2008 election, no less than 79 percent of the voters were white, and Obama carried them by 20 points, winning the state 62 to 36.
How did Scott Brown turn that 26-point deficit into a six-point victory? By winning the white vote as massively as did Obama. While there are no exit polls to prove it, we do have exit polls from Virginia and New Jersey, which tend to corroborate it.
Bob McDonnell won the Virginia governor’s race by 17, while McCain lost Virginia by six. As McDonnell did equally poorly with African-Americans, losing the black vote 90 to nine, while McCain’s lost it 92 to eight, what explains his Virginia landslide?
The white vote. McDonnell won Virginia’s white vote 68 to 32, though his opponent was a downstate Democrat more conservative than the Northern Virginia candidates he beat in the primary.
In New Jersey, same story. McCain won 8 percent of the black vote. Gov. Chris Christie won 8 percent of the black vote. How did Christie turn a McCain loss of New Jersey by 16 points into a five-point victory?
The white vote. McCain won the white vote in New Jersey 50 to 49, but Christie won the white vote 59 to 34, almost two to one.
Republicans have won three major races—two of them upsets and one a Massachusetts miracle—because the white share of the vote in all three rose as a share of the total vote, and Republicans swept the white vote in Reagan-like landslides.
What explains the white surge to the GOP?
First, sinking white support for Obama, seen as ineffectual in ending the recession and stopping the loss of jobs.
Second, a growing perception that Obama is biased. When the president blurted that the Cambridge cops and Sgt. James Crowley “acted stupidly” in arresting black Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates—a rush to judgment that proved wrong—his support sank in white America and especially in Massachusetts, where black Gov. Deval Patrick joined in piling on Crowley. Deval is now in trouble, too.
Then there was Obama’s appointment of Puerto Rican American Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court. Her militant support for race and ethnic preferences and her decision to deny Frank Ricci and the white firefighters of New Haven a hearing on their case that they were denied promotions they won in competitive exams because they were white caused 31 GOP senators to vote against her.
While Massachusetts is Democrat over Republican three to one, Reagan carried the state in 1984 and Hillary Clinton clobbered Obama in the 2008 primary, though the Kennedys were in Obama’s corner. The Scott Brown Democrats were the Hillary Democrats were the Reagan Democrats.
But if McDonnell, Christie and Brown could roll up large enough shares of the white vote to win in three major states McCain lost, why did McCain lose all three?
Answer: In 2008, the working and middle class had had a bellyful of the Bush-McCain Republicans. They were seen as pro-amnesty for illegal aliens and pro-NAFTA, when U.S. workers had watched 5 million manufacturing jobs disappear in a decade—and reappear in China. They were willing to give Obama a chance because Obama had persuaded them by November he was not just another big-spending utopian liberal.
So what have Obama and Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi been doing for a year? Crafting a federal takeover of health care with a vast plan that provides coverage for the uninsured—most of whom are minorities—while sticking it to Medicare recipients, 80 percent to 90 percent of whom are white.
Immigrants are 21 percent of the uninsured, but only 7 percent of the population. This means white folks on Medicare or headed there will see benefits curtailed, while new arrivals from the Third World, whence almost all immigrants come, get taxpayer-subsidized health insurance. Any wonder why all those Tea Party and town-hall protests seem to be made up of angry white folks?
What the McDonnell, Christie, and Brown victories teach is that the GOP should stop listening to the Wall Street Journal and start listening to these forgotten Americans.
An end to affirmative action and ethnic preferences, an end to bailouts of Wall Street bankers, a moratorium on immigration until unemployment falls to 6 percent, an industrial policy that creates jobs here and stops shipping them to China appear a winning hand in 2012.